Authenticator App provides a robust 2FA system for Apple device users. One premium subscription provides access to all devices. The app is easy to install on any device as it is available for download in the different App Stores. No account is required for use of the app and a free version is available for use.
- EASE OF USE
Authenticator App puts your information’s security into your hands.
One of the issues that is always top of mind for people using the internet is, “Will my information be safe?” We’ve all seen the news reports about passwords being compromised and some of us have even been on the receiving end of a hack. So, the question is, how can we stay safe online? One way to secure your information is to incorporate two-factor authentication.
Two-factor authentication, or 2FA, is the process of employing a second method of authenticating your identity to unlock an online account. This method of securing your online accounts is stronger because it requires the user attempting to use a password and log in to provide a secondary code that can only be provided with an authentication tool – like Authenticator App.
About the App & the Developer
Authenticator App is a set of apps for macOS, iOS, iPad OS, and watchOS that provides 2FA tokens for all your online accounts. It’s available for download in the App Stores for the given platforms. According to information from Authenticator App’s website, there have been more than 2 million users of the application.
The developer, 2stable, is a company of four people that was founded in 2021. All four developers have more than 10 years of experience with development. They see to provide creative solutions for day-to-day problems with their software releases. 2stable wants to create easy, gorgeous, secure products for its users. The development company is based in Andorra, which is nestled between France and Spain in Europe.
We don’t collect and don’t have access to your personal data that you save in Authenticator. Everything you do is saved into your iCloud account in encrypted form and is synced across your devices using the same iCloud account. When you use our software we may record some usage analytics, subscription validation and crash logs. The sole purpose of this data is to help us make better decisions on where to focus our efforts and improve our software. You provide some data directly, such as when you contact us for support. Such data is limited to your email address only.
Authenticator App is free to download but has some limitations on features until the user purchases the premium version of the app, which is $9.99 per year. The developers chose to go with a subscription-based model of payment because it helps to support the ongoing development of the project. Here is a quote pulled from their blog where they describe the pricing model decision.
Charging a subscription is the only way we make money, and it helps us continue working and improving the project. We come to a conclusion based on our personal experience in mobile development, that the main problem of one-time payment products is that, early or late they are facing a lack of support and maintenance. This occurs in most cases because the developers lose the motivation to continue work on the project and just leave it there in App Store, and our intentions from the start were to revolutionize the two-factor authentication market.
- No account set up is required to use the app. Users only have to remember one password.
- Biometric Authentication is utilized so that you don’t have to type in your password. The app is compatible with Touch ID and Face ID.
- Data is encrypted even if it is stored in iCloud.
- Synchronization is available across all devices. All data is automatically backed up and synced to devices via iCloud.
- Authenticator can be unlocked with Apple Watch or Touch ID.
- Menu Bar Access is available for Authenticator App.
- Offline use is also available and Authenticator can generate secure tokens even in Airplane mode.
- Import from other authentication sources such as Google Authenticator, Password Managers, and Files.
- Native Experience is available for all platforms.
- Popular services are supported including Facebook, Coinbase, Amazon, Gmail, Instagram, Roblox, and more.
- 8-digit tokens are also supported. ****
Authenticator App is fairly small in size as it only requires 30.8MB for installation. At this time, Authenticator App is only available for Apple device platforms. It appears that 2Stable is working on an Android version, but when you click on the download option for it on their website, it provides a place for people to add their email to a waiting list.
Installation & Use of the App
All the Apple device versions are available through their various App Stores. It does not appear that any alternative versions of the Authenticator App are being offered elsewhere. Therefore, installation is as easy as clicking ‘download’ for the device you want the app for. The first device I downloaded Authenticator for was my MacBook Pro.
I was provided a promo code for the premium version of the app. So, I entered that into the Redeem area of the App Store and then downloaded the app. I was surprised a few seconds later by an email from Apple that stated I was enrolled in the yearly subscription for the app that would automatically renew.
This caught me off guard because even though I had reviewed some of the app information for Authenticator App before selecting to download it, there was nothing next to the price (under In-App Purchases) that indicated there was a subscription. After I received the email about the subscription, I looked more closely at the terms in the App Store and on the developer’s website. Both places do state information about the subscription – it just isn’t included with the pricing in the Mac App Store.
I did bring this to the attention of the developer as I feel that it is something they should be aware of and they said that they would look into it because they strive to stay transparent with their users about all their policies. They pointed out that the iOS App Store includes the correct information with the plan tier so they hope to be able to work with Apple to get that cleared up.
The next thing I noticed about the app was that I was unable to take screenshots. When I review apps, capturing screenshots is part of the process so that we can show examples of the user interface and features of the app. When I took a screenshot, the image was blank and it only showed the desktop. I also reported this to the developer and he said that he thought it might be “…impossible to make screenshots of sensitive related apps.” It was possible to take screenshots in iOS, but not macOS. As a result, all the screenshots have been provided by the developer.
During the setup process, the app did request permission to record my screen, which is becoming more frequent with app installations. As a user, you always have the ability to restrict what apps/utilities have access to screen-recording as a function. Some apps will tell you exactly why it needs to record your screen, while others don’t.
In this case, the app on the Mac needs to be able to record part of the screen in order to read QR Codes without the use of a phone’s camera. It’s a cool feature, but not 100% necessary for use of Authenticator. If you don’t choose to record the screen, you will need to use the camera on your phone to create an access code.
I do want to say that the app works smoothly across all devices and I’ve been especially impressed with the Apple Watch app. There are a lot of watch apps that don’t work right but Authenticator is a major exception to that. It’s responsive and is very convenient. I have Authenticator set as one of my complications on my watch face and when I need a code, I just tap it. It is actually more responsive than my phone sometimes.
Authenticator works with nearly every service that offers 2FA as a security option. Their list of compatible 2FA services can be found here. In order to test out their service, I set up a free account with BuiltWith.com and enabled two-factor authentication. Built With provided an on-screen QR Code to scan. I opened Authenticator and clicked the + sign to add a new account. A window appeared that I dragged on top of the QR Code and it was immediately read into the Authenticator app. This was the same with other apps as well.
The information that I saved in the Mac app synced seamlessly to the iOS and iPad apps. I didn’t have any issue accessing shared information on any of the devices. In addition to the same basic functions that the macOS version provides, the iPhone and iPad versions have widgets available and you can utilize biometric security options to unlock the app.
There are a lot of features that Authenticator provides that other 2FA apps do not. The encrypted backup feature, multi-device support, and native app development are all options that not all 2FA apps offer. While I completely support the decision to request subscriptions from premium users, I question the cost of the apps based on competitors offering 2FA options for multiple accounts (Authenticator is limited to 2 accounts for the free version) with a substantially lower cost (sometimes free).
The system of apps for Authenticator is really nicely designed and is very easy to use. I love that the macOS version doesn’t require an external camera to work. It’s a good option for 2FA authentication – as long as the premium subscription isn’t a dealbreaker for you.
For more information, visit authenticator.2stable.com and Twitter.